Friday, April 30, 2010

Shakparo Ale

Had an interesting beer just now, thought I’d share some comment. It was called Shakparo Ale from the Sprecker Brewery in Wisconsin. Interesting since it is a beer brewed from Sorghum and Millet with no wheat, barley or oats used. This makes it gluten free beer for those who cannot tolerate that but it was primarily brewed this way to replicate a West African brewing style.

When I saw it in the shop it reminded me of our African trip, Lynne and I sat one day somewhere in the middle of Zimbabwe in the mid day sun with a group of old African men and drank this awful pink looking, foul smelling sorghum brew that was the local delight which they loved. You know us, we love to try new things and this beer hit a few different memories. The beer was OK, I wouldn’t but it again.

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Health Benefits of Disney.....

A couple of weeks ago I extolled the blessings of yard chalk; well I do need to add two further items to the list. Most parents will know this intuitively, let me humor those of you who have forgotten these little joys and prepare those of you who have yet to find out. Movies and Band-aids (I’ll comment on the latter in a subsequent post).

It’s sad to say that Disney has actually locked both of these must have items up, one can now get every child product known to man with a princess, a fairy or some other animated character on it.

Anyhow, the benefits of a DVD are indescribable. Look at the picture below, how else could you get so many kids of this age to sit like this. This was the scene in our house earlier as they watched Dora the Explorer, which is much better than Disney I think. The tales i could recount here for you all of the Crystal Kingdom. This down time is necessary for everybody at times, the kids, the parents, the nannies even the dog. A final note, our girls get to watch two movies a week, one Friday afternoon with Brooke and one Sunday afternoon – this gives us leverage for good behavior all week long. Nothing snaps them to attention like the threat of losing a movie :))

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

5 Today

Today, Anja, our dear daughter turned five years. Happy birthday sweetheart, love from Mummy and Daddy. This post is obviously post fact but I think she had a good day. We’ll have a small party on Saturday but today we celebrated within the family. This morning she opened cards from both sets of grandparents, us and her siblings of course in addition to a card from Brooke and her parents. She received a few small presents, couple of DVDs, an umbrella and a scooter all of which, in typical Anja fashion she graciously received. She had a call from her Gran this morning, another from “uncle Håkan from Sweden" later this evening and generally had a good day at school, she told everybody that she was five.

This evening, as a special treat and in order to mark this occasion, Brooke graciously agreed to stay later to babysit while Lynne and I took her to a “fancy restaurant”, since she was so grown up. This obviously upset Isabel a little but her day will come. We went to a local white tablecloth French style restaurant, Bistro 501. She got all dolled up in a frilly pink dress, like she can, and off we went. She loved it. She tried escargot (snails) and baked brie, she had a small soup and a shank of lamb (I’ll eat most of that for lunch tomorrow). The dessert was on the house, a chocolate and cream mousse. She had coke for the first time in her life. She declared at the end of the meal that this was the “best day of her life”, my heart melted. All of this was a treasure but most memorable for me was the fact that upon receiving a small sweet from the waitress on our way out, she insisted on taking one home for her sister , “Isabel would like that Daddy”.
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Saturday, April 24, 2010

March for Babies

We had a family outing early this morning. We all took part in our local walk for babies. It’s a sponsored 4 mile walk on behalf of the March of Dimes organization. Lorraine is very involved in the local organization of this event and at her work, Evonik. For us, it’s pretty easy to generate enthusiasm and actual support for a national organization whose implicit goal is improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. We heard a few stories this morning, both miracle survival stories and indeed some sad infant mortality stories. I think we we all know somebody who has a story relating to early childhood survival or mortality. The March of Dimes has been one of the leading organizations driving the improvement in knowledge and care in this area.

We left the house at 8am which was a very early start for a Saturday morning. We all had a lot of fun though. There were a couple thousand people with multiple activities for the children. We are taking it easy this afternoon, I just had a snooze :)

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Thanks Brooke!!

I’m of the belief that one should never stop thanking people. It is for this reason that I try getting the girls to thank Brooke, our nanny, each evening before she goes home for looking after them. We are certainly very thankful to have her. She has been with us now for over six months and she is simply wonderful with the kids. Every parent knows the importance of having trustworthy childcare and we have been so lucky with all our nannies and particularly with Brooke. She has now been watching all three kids for some time and has taken it in her stride. She is so caring and patient (they can be quite a handful) yet strict when necessary and comes each day with a plan for the days activities. We are really thankful to have her, as I have said before, she makes our life possible!

Thank for the Playset

I wanted to express our sincere thanks to Liz and Phil Krause, our neighbors across the way, for donating their playset and play house to the Owens clan. They have had it many years but their kids have moved on. Their oldest is now in college and youngest is long past swings and slides. Our kids on the other hand went ballistic when they saw it. They love it!! Thanks also are due to Randy for filling the sandbox underneath!!

I think it goes well in the garden, fits in nicely.

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Connor Sitting at the Table

Our little man growing up. He is now joining us at the table at meal times, he loves sitting up and is watching every move when it comes to food. He’s currently teething so his hands are constantly in his mouth chewing away. Today he had another round of shots so he’s a little out of sorts and still not sleeping…..oh the life!!
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Russian Dolls....

A picture of the girls yesterday with their presents from Moscow, a pair of Russian Dolls.

One final note, I was listening to a story on the radio this evening. They were discussing the best and worst airports worldwide to be stranded at. Yip, Moscow was rated the worst and in case you are planning on getting stranded anytime soon, head to Singapore!!

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Home Safely from Moscow!!

Most of you will have heard of the volcanic eruption this week in Iceland and how that affected all air traffic in Europe. Well I was trapped in Moscow through the second day of this. Virtually all flight options to the US from Moscow go through the major European hubs. We got there through London and were scheduled back through Stockholm. Nope, not this time…..

Our travel services department started putting us on flights down through Rome and Munich which all eventually got cancelled. We finally got on the last direct flight from Moscow to the US, an Aeroflot flight to New York, after having spent 12 hours at a cigarette smoke filled Moscow airport (they did have designated smoking areas but these were spaced about 50 meters apart and were not ventilated at all, they were really only dedicated spaces). Anyhow, after a prolonged flight (11.5 hours), we flew south over Poland and the Mediterranean to avoid the ash, we landed to late to get home so I had to grab a hotel at the airport and then caught an early flight to Chicago before my drive home. All in all, got home a little short of 24 hours after my original schedule, which I do realize is actually quite lucky. Recall that I was in London two days before the volcano blew and I think I’d still be there if I was not in Moscow!


We did get a chance on the final day of our trip to do a very little bit of sightseeing. Moscow is like any other major European capital city with a full week’s worth of activity if one had the time. We had only two hours or so we headed to red square. We decided to walk the three miles to get there, my exercise for the week, which is always great to get a feel for the city. It is very cosmopolitan, expensive shops, people everywhere and all dressed very well. There were very stark contrasts everywhere between modernity and soviet era views. This extended to people, the military presence and obviously the streets and architecture.

When we got to the Red Square, we walked around and saw many of the Kremlin buildings, the military buildings, the several palaces churches but of course the highlight and signature skyline item was St Basils Cathedral. It is beautiful and is equally stunning when viewing from a distance as it is when viewing up close. After picking up a couple of Russian dolls for the girls, we sat at the only small little café in red square and soaked it for a while. It was nice to get to visit another European capital.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Short Stay in London

I have landed safely in Moscow after a short stop in London. I’m travelling with a work colleague and after visiting one company we actually made it into the city center for dinner. After a short tour of Piccadilly Circus, Leister Square, Covent Garden and parts of Soho, we headed straight for Chinatown for dinner. It was hard to pick a restaurant but we succeeded and had a nice meal.

We have a packed schedule here in Moscow for a few day but we (five work colleagues and myself) are determined to get some time to tour the city and visit a few sites so I may get to post a few pictures later.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Yesterday, we kicked off our spring party season. Early afternoon we celebrated Reina’s sixth birthday and later in the afternoon it was Chuck and Melissa’s first party in their new house. It was a fun packed day, there was another egg hunt, great food as always, met some new people but mostly old friends that we have not seen since everybody hibernated for the winter.

I may not post this much this week, I’m leaving on a trip in about an hour. I’ll be in the UK for one day and the rest of the week at various places around Moscow. I may get to take a few pictures and upload them from there, we’ll have to see! This will be Lynne’s first week with all three on her own so it won’t be easy. She’ll have some help! Hope you all have a good week.

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Monday, April 05, 2010

Poor Kids, Always Being Compared!

You’ll indulge me for a few moments…please? I don’t have many photos of myself from my baby years, but there is one where Mum and Dad had me all dressed up in blue frills and had a few shots taken. All my aunts and uncles had this picture in their houses as I grew up so it was widely distributed. I was five months old and since Connor is now four months and much bigger than I was at five I think (he had a head start), I thought I’d pull a comparison. See below! Connor is slightly different ages in these two shots!
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The Blessing of Yard Chalk

The beauty of yard chalk is that it’s simple, easy to use, generally doesn't result in arguments, allows kids to be creative and keeps then entertained for long periods of time. We love chalk! The girls and Emma created a mermaid on Sunday afternoon!

Speaking of keeping kids entertained for hours, I have not posted much about this little tool. Lynne bought this sling, a very good investment indeed. Connor loves it and has done for the last several months. Does he look comfortable?

Easter Weekend!

We survived the Easter weekend. Indeed we did more than survive, it was a pretty cool weekend (it really helped that we had Friday off – I love those three day weekends).

On Saturday the girls collected eggs at Randy and Loraine’s house, we actually hung out with their extended family and friends, 24 people for brunch and dinner. It was nice to finally meet Lorraine’s niece Freya and nephew Spencer. We just hung out then on Sunday and did most of our weekend chores. Actually, Emma and Laura came to visit which was great since the girls needed some activity and neither Lynne nor I were about to offer much entertainment.

Finally then today, to end the weekend, Easter Eggs from Ireland. Yip, today three Cadbury Easter Eggs arrived in the post from Granny Owens. Hope you all have a great week!
Lynne prepared this no bake cheesecake, it tasted top tasty!

Cy enjoying the egg collection. Never too old for goodies!!

Logan also glad to find the eggs which were strewn around the house. Some were filled with dollar coins!

Friday, April 02, 2010

Old Photos......Mango

We had some mango today for lunch and I was telling Anja about our time in the Cook islands where we had fresh mango each morning for breakfast, picked the night before from the tree next door. The best mango we ever had, or likely to have again. The picture below features Carina, our friend from Sweden who travelled to the Cooks with us.

We are all well here. Lynne and I took a vacation day today since the weather was so beautiful (82F) and kick-started our garden. We got most of our flower beds cleaned up and mulched (almost 9 yards spread) and started our season of mowing. It felt great to get a day of physical work done! We’re a little tired now so we’re all off out for Chinese buffet for dinner!

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